Every January, every GODDAMN year, I make the same bullshit resolutions. And you know what? I’m still fat, unfit, I don’t see my friends much, I’m still unsuccessful, and I’m constantly spiritually miserable.
What’s more, I’ve already broken one resolution (“Write Timely And Topical Blogs On A Weekly Basis!!”) because it’s two weeks into the year, and only now am I writing about New Year Resolutions. I’ve already made 2016 into a massive bag of dicks.
You know what? Big shiny bollocks to it. This year, I’m going to make some resolutions that I’m going to KEEP for once.
And I’m telling you this because if I don’t do them by this time next year, you can tut at me and shake your head in disappointment.
So here goes, some actual resolutions that I might just stick to.
This is you writing a letter to you, because you don’t listen to me when I tell you things. Here are your resolutions for 2016:
1. Don’t just “lose weight”. Lose some weight. Lots, or not very much, it’s up to you. In any case, you should weigh less in January 2017 than you weigh now. Even if it’s just 1lb, you’ve still lost weight. Aim for that 1lb. Anything else is a bonus.
2. Don’t just “get fit”, just get a little bit fitter. Somewhere, under several cubic centimetres of body fat, there is a reasonably buff body. Let it poke its head out from under the duvet, yeah? You don’t have to jog, go on a rowing machine, lift weights, jog, ride a bike or jog. All you have to do is just not be out of breath when you climb stairs. Why not just walk more? Go walking somewhere. Take Sarah and Alice, just don’t use the walk to offload on your poor wife like you normally do. Talk about anything, but for once, not how you’re feeling right now ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME. Walk to work more often; it’s 2.5 miles away, it’s mostly downhill, it’s still decent exercise. OK, so you’ll have to get up at 6:30am, but you know what? It’s time to fucking grow up and be an adult for the first time in your life, Phnut (N.B. I’m 39)
3. See your friends. Actually go and see them. They’re people you like. Their company is a Good Thing, and they cheer you up. Schedule nights for friends, and nights for staying indoors watching crappy telly. Make the effort, it’s worth it.
4. For once, don’t chuck stuff out. You like clutter really. Whenever you watch Through The Keyhole, both you and Sarah like the houses with more stuff, more higgledy-piggledy bookshelves crammed with books. There’s no need to get rid of anything. Instead, why not tidy the house more than once a week? If there is still clutter, then it’s a storage problem that can be resolved by a rethink and a rejig of your furniture. Buy storage compartments and boxes if you have to. Or just be a bit more organised.
5. Adult more. To “adult” is officially a verb now, not just an age. Don’t believe me? OK sunshine, go and find your tax return. Oh? Is it not where you left it? That’s because you left it under a pile of other important correspondence. Some of that paperwork is worth money/a convenient boost to your life/is good for your health. Sort it out. You can do it all in an evening or two every couple of months, you don’t have to watch TV every night, you know. You are surrounded by piles. Deal with THE PILES OF PAPER. Reduce it to one pile, then reduce further. And once it’s dealt with, throw most of it away. And throw out anything that makes you feel bad. You have too much correspondence that reminds you of bad times. Get rid of it.
6. Career. OK, you’ve been avoiding it all your life in case your jazz-prog folk metal band inspired by Japanese noise-pop and late-1970s minimalism suddenly takes off, but you are 39 now, and you need to be honest with yourself: The chances of the band being picked up and achieving success are only moderately high these days.
In the meantime, considering you were unemployed this time last year, you’ve finally got a job you actually enjoy with people you like, in a place you can bear to be in. Why not achieve things there? They seem to like you, and they say encouragingly nice things, and they offer you an actual and achievable career ladder for the first time in your life. Why not climb it and see what the view is like?
7. Adult more PART 2. Go to bed earlier so that you can get up at 6:30am so that you can WALK TO WORK (so what if it’s raining/snowing/foggy/too early/too cold/too far/too hot/too dark??). It’s part of a chain of thought that improves your life. Can’t you see the connections, you dimbo?
8. Be a parent that joins in. Look at Alice, she’s already growing adult teeth. That sweet little 6-year-old is going to be a surly 9-year-old before you can blink. By this time next year, you might have bought her some bleepy gewgaw that she cannot lift her eyes from. She’s a really interesting person. Talk to her. Listen to her imaginative games. Don’t just tell her to be quiet all the time. Let her shout, let her run around, let her make you laugh.
You take her out places, sure. You talk a lot. You listen to music together, but you don’t sit down and draw stuff with her when she asks you to, and you don’t join in her games. Be on her level for just five minutes, because those five minutes in three years’ time are going to be very different. She’ll be doing different things, and she won’t want you to do them with her. Instead of shoving her out of the kitchen when you cook (partially for safety, partially the desire not to be annoyed by her constant prattle, and partially because you want to watch The Wire on DVD and you don’t want her to copy the language in school), why not – for just one night a month maybe – have her in there with you? She loves hanging out with you.
And next time you’re at a birthday party with her, maybe – just maybe – dance with her if she asks you to. Show her your moves.
(And then embarrass her in front of her friends with your awkward, unnatural, arrhythmic, shuffly, galumphing, hippo-dancing with added jazz hands, and she’ll never ask you again. WIN!)
9. Make a Will. Just do it. Don’t believe The Worst can happen? The Worst is happening all around you. Four contemporaries from your life died last year of various causes. They didn’t see it coming at the start of the year. Don’t take existence for granted anymore. Also, you have a vague feeling that the only Will you ever made in your life prior to now might just have your ex-girlfriend as a beneficiary. You don’t care for your ex-girlfriend. You haven’t even stalked her on Facebook much. Alice is worth more than her.
10. Adult more PART 3. Stop doing things to sabotage your progress. You want to lose some weight, right? Well, stop making pints of milkshake at 10:30pm just because you’re peckish. Carrots are tasty food too, eat them instead. Sure they’re not as tasty, but what happened when you drank that chocolatey milkshake? Hmmm?
Speak up, please. We can’t hear you.
“It made me feel vaguely nauseous. Plus it sat on my stomach like a heavy turd sandwich, and I couldn’t sleep. So when the alarm got me up at 6:30am for me to walk 2.5 miles to work the following morning, I felt like shit”
Grow. The. Fuck. Up.
11. Fix things. What happens when you fix things, Dan? Wife loves you a little bit more, right? Daughter thinks you’re a hero, yeah? How long would it take to fix something? 10 minutes? Surely that’s better than what you’ve been doing the last six months as a stopgap measure, isn’t it? I mean, prising the plug out of the bath using your nail scissors because the chain is broken is not very much fun, or easy, is it? Fix the bloody plug. And put the lock on the back gate. And tidy all the shit up in the back room. And paint those walls.
And if you can’t do it yourself (e.g. replastering the front room), finally get someone to do it for you, and pay them to do a first-rate job. Sarah has been waiting patiently for years to have a nice front room. You owe it to her. Make it happen. Also, Alice’s room is a bit crappy. Make it look nicer than it does now. It would take, what? A weekend to do? And she’ll love you for it, more than a million ice creams’-worth, at least.
Best of all, what happens when you do DIY? You get some exercise and (worth far more) your self-esteem goes up. That’s worth something, isn’t it?
12. Shrug off the things you don’t need anymore. I’m not talking to you (me) about material things and clutter; get rid of all the bullshit in your head you can live without: Old grudges, nasty things people said to you more than ten years ago, embarrassing incidents, enemies, rivals, petty jealousies, regrets, awkward moments, stupid things you said at the wrong time, unfortunate outbursts, the people who shat on you, tactless stupidity, all the thoughts that bubble up at 3am to make you hate yourself… you know what? Forgive the people who you like who never meant to upset you, admonish the people who need telling they crossed a line, tell the people you don’t care about to go fuck themselves. You want to lose weight in 2017? Why not lose the emotional weight?
Speaking of which…
12a. Write to Dad’s ex-mistress and tell her, in no uncertain terms, that she should stop sending your Mum Christmas cards every year. Dad’s been dead over a decade, and that gnarled old trollop should just fuck off. What you do not need, every year, is a reminder of your Dad and the fact he’s dead AS WELL AS a reminder that your Dad was (amongst many fine qualities) an adulterous, no-good, two-timing scruttock.
13. Go out and see things. Watch birds. Walk. Breathe the air. You like summer evenings? Well, go and enjoy one this year, on your own if no one else comes with you. You want to watch a movie? Don’t use a precious, child-free ‘date night’ to drag Sarah to see a film she’s not interested in. Get mates together and go and see the damn flick. See it by yourself, if nothing else! Listen to the sea once in a while. Go out into the countryside. Walk through the city. Do a guided tour around a castle or stately home. Catch one of those tourist buses in the summer. Go on that “Pirate Tour” you’ve always wanted to do. Go out and see live bands again. Find out who is “on the scene”. Never tell anyone younger than you that you want to “check out the scene!”, because they might call you Grandpa in a mocking tone of voice.
14. Do something. You know you’re always annoyed that you haven’t done anything with your life? Well, either do something significant, or how about this: Look around and see you have a lovely wife, a smashing daughter, a nice house, some great mates, a pretty enjoyable job, some fabulous memories. Some people never achieve any of that. Any one of those things is a LIFE WIN. You are lucky to have them all. Either do something remarkable and achieve a lifelong ambition, or be content with the good things you have.
Either that, or just do stuff. Don’t just sit around and watch TV, go out and do something. Do small things. Write a poem, not a book of poems. Write a song, not an album. Plant a flower, not “tackle the garden”. Make a friend. Volunteer for something. Help out. Draw something in pencil. Do something that leaves a memory. Drink a cup of fucking coffee. Just Do Something This Year.
Well, that’s it. Those are my resolutions for 2016. Took me the first few weeks of the year to work them out, but they’re cast in stone now. Now… EXCEL YOURSELF, PHNUT.
OOH! OOH! I FORGOT ONE!!
15. Actually try Pulled Pork this year. You’ve been putting it off for too long.
#12a has been done. Smoke it, bitch.